Monday, November 30, 2009

The Greatest Scientific Scandal of Our Age

Here's a good summary of why Climategate is the greatest scientific scandal of our generation:

There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world.

1.
Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre's blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt's blog Watts Up With That ), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws. They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based. Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence. But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide?

2. The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programs, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. What is tragically evident is the picture of the CRU scientists hopelessly at sea with the complex computer programs they had devised to contort their data in the approved direction, more than once expressing their own desperation at how difficult it was to get the desired results. This comes up so often that it becomes the most disturbing single element of the entire story.

3.
The third shocking revelation of these documents is the ruthless way in which these academics have been determined to silence any expert questioning of the findings they have arrived at by such dubious methods – not just by refusing to disclose their basic data but by discrediting and freezing out any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics' work. It seems they are prepared to stop at nothing to stifle scientific debate in this way, not least by ensuring that no dissenting research should find its way into the pages of IPCC reports.

Conclusion: Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.

~Christopher Booker, author of "The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the Obsession with 'Climate Change' Turning Out to be the Most Costly Scientific Blunder in History?" writing in
The Telegraph

Thanks to Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog.

21 Comments:

At 11/30/2009 3:17 PM, Blogger John said...

But it's a CRISIS! A CRISIS I tell ya'! And you weren't going to do anything with these tax dollars anyway....

 
At 11/30/2009 3:22 PM, Blogger Ironman said...

I'd be remiss in not pointing out that the climate scandal failed our pseudoscience checklist audit. It shares a remarkable number of parallels with the Piltdown Man hoax in paleontology.

 
At 11/30/2009 4:41 PM, Blogger OA said...

Not only were the scientists corrupt, the media was as well. They've always portrayed this as fact when there has been a very significant disagreement by real scientists. I think it was early this year that a NASA climatologist had to apologize for expressing doubt that global warming is real. If he had stated an opinion in support of global warming theories he wouldn't have had to apologize.

I would like those who pressured him, to now apologize for being such tools.

 
At 11/30/2009 5:26 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Head of CRU says: "CRU's full data will be published in the interests of research transparency...It is worth reiterating that our conclusions correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies." Source

 
At 11/30/2009 5:56 PM, Blogger QT said...

Thanks, Steve, for the link. Interesting that the head of CRU says all data will be published in full with the following caveat...

"...but understand that responses may take several months and that some countries may refuse permission due to the economic value of the data."

Great idea for a reality TV show.

 
At 11/30/2009 6:00 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

I think #3 is a little bit overblown. I've read the code comments in #2 etc. and at my limited level of understanding, it looks more like incompetence than conspiracy.

#1 is the big smoking gun.

 
At 11/30/2009 7:54 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Rush Limbaugh did a thorough fisking of Gore as a climate terrorist replete with external links to bolster his point of view: "And let's not forget Algore, who ought to be interrogated just as every president of Big Tobacco was for lying about nicotine, addiction of tobacco and nicotine and all that..."...

It really was rather entertaining...

 
At 11/30/2009 8:51 PM, Blogger randian said...

Head of CRU says: "CRU's full data will be published in the interests of research transparency

Since they threw out the raw data, this "full data" will be the "value-added" stuff. In other words, they're going to publish more fraudulent data.

 
At 11/30/2009 8:58 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

steve-

the data they are publishing will be essentially useless. it's all heavily adjusted and homogenized. all of the raw data was "thrown away".

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6936328.ece

how this team can claim with a straight face that, despite having the money to buy a new supercomputer, they threw away the single most comprehensive and valuable set of raw climate data in the world to "save space" when they moved a year or two ago beggars belief. they never heard of iron mountain?

hell, hundreds of institutions would have paid them to get it and would have offered to put it all into database form for free just to get a look at it.

there is no plausible explanation for "dumping" the data apart from avoiding FOI claims and keeping the real data out of the hands of those who would check their work.

the code is proving even more damning than the e-mails-

this is clear, deliberate fraud:

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1447

there is no other way to spin it.

if you doubt that data adjustment is the primary cause of global warming, i recommend reading this, which is an excellent survey of it's demonstrated impacts.

http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2009/11/yet-more-stuff-we-always-suspected-but-its-nice-to-have-proof.html

the only man made global warming is being made at the computers of climate scientists...

 
At 11/30/2009 10:54 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Actually Kuhn in the structure of scientific revolutions (1962) identified the behavior we are seeing now. Scientists develop a paradigm that defines there world view. If you don't agree with the paradigm you are hooted out of the room. Eventually evidence accumulates and perhaps the paradigm is changed.
Let me give a couple of examples from the 20th century in earth science. Bretz in 1925 introduced the Spokane floods concept and was laughed out of geological societies for the ideas. There was another scientist who had an idea where the water came from but he worked for the usgs and was censored.Eventually over time more people went and looked at Eastern Washington, and by the 1950's the concept was generally recognized. Bretz finally got metals from the scientific societies when he was 96 honoring him for his discoveries.
A second example is Alfred Wegner and continental drift. He observed that Africa and South America would more or less fit together. But the establishment laughed at this as usual. Then in the 1950s sea floor spreading was discovered and the idea was accepted after a lot of grumbling.
Both of these are examples of how the scientific establishment rejects what it regards as kooky ideas (there are a lot of these) and only over a long time as evidence comes in and new generation arrives on the scene, are ideas that explain observations observed.
So what everyone was taught in high school about how science works is totally wrong, it is conducted by humans with human frailties who get an idea and stick with it until overwhelmed by evidence that the apparent bad idea is good, or a new generation looks at the observations and says my that was a good theory. The climate science community is in the rut of a given paradigm now. So to call them corrupt is a bit strong as they are acting the way scientists act. The difference this time is that the scientists are saying the sky is falling!! This does not give the additional observations a chance to emerge and show if the theory is correct or not.

 
At 11/30/2009 11:31 PM, Blogger QT said...

morganovich,

very interesting links. thanks. why does the word mendacity come to mind?

are we not fortunate to live in the age of the internet? when bullsh** gets challenged (ie. Dan Rather) and totalitarian thuggery is exposed by images captured on a cell phone? is it possible to control public opinion in such an age?...i think not. as they say, democracy is inherently messy although it beats the alternative.

 
At 12/01/2009 5:31 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well Obama's science czar John Holdren will get to the bottom of this mystery of the missing data!

Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

 
At 12/01/2009 10:09 AM, Blogger QT said...

Juandos,

The use of intimidation to silence dissent echoes Dr. Lindzen's article,
Climate of Fear from 2006. Interesting isn't it that Holdren is a member of the Club of Rome...like we couldn't have guessed.

 
At 12/01/2009 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I read the emails and thought that the conversations could apply to any of the scientific disciplines that I work with after a find/replace operation.

The desire to withhold the data is no different than nearly every other scientific field, especially in Europe, which regularly monetizes even the worst data sets.

As for the pseudoscience checklist, I've never met a professor at a major research university that appreciated it when people questioned their findings. They defend themselves if attacked by a 4th grader. If they have the power to stop it -- through political persuasion -- discussion of new theories frequently gets killed. In that regard, the system takes a little time to shake out nonsense. Just like the business community needs time to shake off fads.

My understanding is that the United States has invested in at least 2 alternative data sets and analysis systems/mechanisms and each showed that global warming was occurring (it's difficult to disprove the disappearance of the polar ice caps). The question they debate is just "how much is man made"? Where the conclusion from every team is "at least some of it". The rest of the debate over "how much of it is man-made" and "what are the implications" seems like "classic science" debate. ;)

 
At 12/01/2009 12:02 PM, Anonymous John said...

No doubt Obama will appoint Al Gore to look into this. Whenever scientists try to suppress data or conflicting opinions we should be very suspicious.

 
At 12/01/2009 1:27 PM, Blogger John said...

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/
04/20/2009 - Ice is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent’s western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth’s ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week’s meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown “significant cooling in recent decades”.

 
At 12/01/2009 4:59 PM, Blogger QT said...

Anyone watching this debate for the last few years has already noticed that the IPCC report for policy makers is hyped while the release of the scientific report goes practically unreported.

The last scientific report for example stated that the theory of storm intensification had been disproved...did the message ever make the press or the public?

Anon. 10:56,

Yes, there are certainly university researchers who are defensive about their work and there are instances where particular theories have impeded alternative research. Proponents of the prion theory of Alzheimer's blocked funding for other types of research which is unfortunate, because prions turned out to be a symptom rather than a cause. The medical profession however tends to be very conservative.

I can also agree that research data is often well-guarded or proprietary.

I find it difficult to believe however that blocking research or discrediting others is typical of all branches of scientific research. In this case, there is a very small group of specialists who exercise considerable influence over their field. Perhaps, this reflects how few people actually work in this field.

When I worked at the Royal Ontario Museum in the 80s, there was 1 job in Egyptology in all of Canada. This is not unusual for very specialized fields.

 
At 12/01/2009 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yawn.

How can you make a mountain out of a molehill. Plenty of public data confirm global warming and CO2 link. This is nothing.

 
At 12/01/2009 10:59 PM, Blogger OA said...

Anonymous said...

Yawn.

How can you make a mountain out of a molehill. Plenty of public data confirm global warming and CO2 link. This is nothing.


Considering the correlation isn't even that good, it's pretty remarkable you have confirmation of a link.

 
At 12/01/2009 11:26 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Note that the Australian Senate just defeated cap and trade in Australia handing the government a defeat. The main issue IMHO is that cap and trade is the make Wall Street even richer act. If we want to discourage carbon use just tax it! (x% on electricty, y% on gasoline, etc). But of course this will never fly because Wall street will not get its ton of flesh!!

 
At 12/02/2009 11:32 PM, Blogger gadfly said...

The government-controlled media in the U.S continues to be silent on Climategate with the possible exception of Revkin's blog in the NYT and Fox News.

It is little wonder that we have to access Times Online and the UK Telegraph for adequate details surrounding this hoax that costs us trillions of dollars.

Thanks to bloggers like Climate Audit and Watts Up With That, those of us who get news electronically are the best informed people on the planet.

 

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